WFD Success Stories

Are You Ready to Prosper?

Vida Shaw – July 2021 WFD Graduate

To persevere means to move forward despite difficulty or delay in achieving success – that’s one way July 2021 Workforce Development graduate, Ms. Vida Shaw, survived her personal journey.

Despite the odds, Ms. Shaw was able to overcome her trials with the help of surrounding supports, including Workforce Development Coordinators.

“When I wanted to quit my job and I was feeling mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted, I called [Workforce Development] and that’s what kept me going. You guys really helped me push through.”

Ms. Shaw also credits Workforce Development workshops for some of the day-to-day progress she experienced.

“Had I not taken these [Workforce Development] workshops, I would not have had some of the coping skills I needed to get through everyday work or just everyday life.”

When asking Ms. Shaw how she would encourage new enrollees, she offers her favorite quote to anyone who’s fearful about their ability to prosper, “You can do all things through Christ, who strengthens you.”

Are you ready for change too? Contact Workforce Development to learn how it’s possible!


From Addiction to Certification

Katie Simonson – May 2021 WFD Success Story

“When our tests become our testimonies, that’s when we can encourage people,” says Workforce Development (WFD) participant, Katie Simonson. She says she learned the phrase in recovery while battling addiction.

Katie says pure faith, loving support and local treatment center, Step 2, helped turn her life around, and now she’s ready to share her story with others.

“In five years, I went from having absolutely nothing and being an everyday drug user, to being a certified dental assistant.”

But it wasn’t easy. Katie says the years-long process took her on a journey that led her to the program, thanks to a flyer she received in the mail. She enrolled in July 2019 and set her goals with the help of a WFD Coordinator.

Katie signed up with RHA partner, JOIN, who funded the dental assisting program and paid for all textbooks and supplies, ensuring her stability while in school. She went to class during the day and had a church friend watch her daughter while she worked grave shifts at a local women’s shelter at night.

It’s hard work, but Katie wants to encourage future participants to start small.

“The fear of setting strong goals can keep people from joining the program and I want to let them know it’s nothing extreme… you can choose any path you want.”

She also found success by keeping a positive outlook on life, with the help of her church family.

“All anyone ever told me was what I could do. It was the exact opposite of addiction, where people were only telling me what I couldn’t do. I want my story to start with addiction because if there’s somebody who’s lost and still using, I want them to read my story and say, ‘Wow, maybe I can do it if she can.’”

Katie is an inspiration to RHA’s Workforce Development team and we’re proud to share her testimony. If you’re ready to take steps toward change, visit Workforce Development to learn how it’s possible.


 $10k Saved in Two Years While Enrolled in Workforce Development

Dejanae J. Brown – April 2021 WFD Success Story

“I’m a shy person, so when it comes to trying to branch out or going to talk to someone about getting a job, I was very hesitant because I’m thinking, ‘What if this person judges me?’ or ‘What if this person looks at me and turns me away?’ It can be scary.”

Dejanae overcame her fears in early 2018, when she discovered RHA partner, Community Service Agency (CSA). She says they taught her professional skills, basic computer training and helped her access school funding – and she thinks more people should know about it.

“They were very helpful in getting me started. People should go in there very open minded, willing to accept the help and not feel like they’re being a burden.”

Dejanae says while working with CSA, she enrolled in Workforce Development (WFD) in March 2019 and began working with a WFD Coordinator to further develop her professional skills and career advancement.

Fast-forward two years, Dejanae has escrowed more than $10,000 while enrolled in the program!! Workforce Development is a five-year program, which means Dejanae has three full years of escrowing ahead of her; setting her up to graduate from the program with enough money for a down payment on a home for her family.

“It makes me feel good to know I’m working and saving to be able to accomplish a big goal of mine, which is owning a home. I’m working on something I never really thought could happen for me because of where I come from and my surroundings.”

Ms. Azzy

Dejanae wants other moms to use their motherhood as motivation to reach their goals too.

“Don’t let having kids stop you from doing the things you want to do. Everything you want is still possible, you just have to believe in yourself… I’m living life, growing and learning with [my daughter] by my side and it makes me feel like I can accomplish anything. I know I can do it because I always have this little monster cheering me on, supporting me and giving me the love that I need.”

Interested in saving for a future home too? Contact Workforce Development to learn how it’s possible!


RHA Resident Developing Nonprofit with the Help of Workforce Development

Kyle H. Burke – March 2021 WFD Success Story

The root of change sprouts when you determine a need. Kyle Burke, Workforce Development (WFD) participant and founder of S.W.A.A.A.G Foundation Inc., discovered the necessity for change in 2019.

“Out of the five years I’ve been coaching, I was also a parent effected by the lack of certain things.”

S.W.A.A.A.G, standing for “Students with Achievable Academic or Athletic Goals”, is a Nevada 501 (c)(3) corporation that provides mentorship, coaching and academic support to youth, coaches and teachers in Washoe County. Kyle successfully established his nonprofit on his own, and is now working with WFD Coordinators to strengthen his organization’s foundation.

Kyle says he always noticed a need for student/athlete mentorship, but through personal experience, he noticed most teachers and coaches were missing the mark, and parents weren’t getting their money’s worth.

“A lot of these coaches are here to win and develop in that sport, but not develop [the athlete] as an individual… a coach, a teacher, or anyone that’s trying to influence other people, they’re doing social work.”

S.W.A.A.A.G was developed to provide more resources, training and overall support to student athletes, teachers and coaches alike, to promote an all-inclusive approach – there’s a place for everyone on the team.

“Some parents are putting their kids on the team, knowing their kid is shy or don’t have the athletic ability, but want to be part of a team…there are other jobs on the team they can be good at.”

S.W.A.A.A.G, standing for “Students with Achievable Academic or Athletic Goals”, is a Nevada 501 (c)(3) corporation that provides mentorship, coaching and academic support to youth, coaches and teachers in Washoe County.

Lack of proper sports gear, teaching and coaching equipment are also common needs S.W.A.A.A.G hopes to fulfill in the community.

S.W.A.A.A.G recently partnered with boxing gym, Warzone Boxing Club, and began a campaign to help keep their doors open; watch the news story here.

RHA’s Workforce Development believes in Kyle and S.W.A.A.A.G Foundation Inc., and are here to support his future endeavors.

Are you ready to reach for your dreams too? Visit Workforce Development to learn more.


WFD Grad: “Don’t let your pride get in the way of building yourself back up.”

Alona Schmidig – Sept. 2020 WFD Graduate

Alona Schmidig and her children are all smiles following her successful completion of Workforce Development (WFD). With the money she saved in the program, she was able to pay off debt, increase her credit score and use the rest of the money as part of a down payment on a home.

“I never thought I would have to start over again. I had two small children to raise and provide for and I didn’t know where to start. This program has held me accountable.”

Alona says it took time to trust what the program had to offer, but she’s grateful for the WFD Coordinators who supported her along the way.

“Don’t let your pride get in the way of building yourself back up. It took me months to let go of my pride and accept the help to get back to work.”

Visit Workforce Development to learn how you can become a graduate.


WFD Grad Upgrading Business with Escrow Funds

Monica Ohotto – July 2020 WFD Graduate

Congratulations to July 2020 Workforce Development graduate, Monica Ohotto! Monica is using her escrow check to expand and upgrade the business she established with the help of WFD Coordinators.

“In 2013 I started my journey in [the program] after many long talks with my housing manager. I had no idea what it would bring for my family, but I knew it would be positive.”

Monica says the program taught her how to develop a balance between work and home. She says Workforce Development also helped her put her goals into action; as a result sharpening her financial literacy, time management and parenting skills.

“I believe this program was very helpful in keeping me focused and accountable in my growth as a person, a mother and a business owner.”

Contact Workforce Development today to learn more.


WFD Participant Graduates with Savings for New Home

Heather – May 2020 WFD Graduate

It’s a dream come true for Heather, Workforce Development’s May 2020 graduate. Heather escrowed enough money to use as a down payment on a new home with a large yard for her family.

Heather says Workforce Development helped her realize she’s capable of reaching her goals! She also says her escrow check has given her a sense of security.

Heather was able to save large amounts of money every month by joining the program, then increase her earned income with the help of a WFD Coordinator.

Want to learn the same? Contact Workforce Development to get started!



2020 Grad Encourages Future Participants to Trust WFD Coordinators

Alphonsine Jones – April 2020 WFD Graduate

“Having you guys there with supportive attitudes and resources is a great thing when you’re trying to do things to better yourself,” says Workforce Development (WFD) graduate, Alphonsine Jones.

She discovered the program in 2015. When Alphonsine enrolled, she says she was just beginning school and trying to find her footing. As a working, single parent, Alphonsine says WFD Coordinators helped her keep hope throughout her journey in the program.

“When things were hard, they helped me stay on my path so I could be successful.”

While in the program, Alphonsine obtained her Medical Administrative Assistant certification and has full-time employment at a Reno hospital. Alphonsine says she wants to encourage other RHA residents to trust WFD Coordinators with their goals.

“A lot of people have been taught to mistrust. A lot of programs out there don’t follow through with what they say they’re going to do, but you guys are behind us every step of the way. There’s nothing else out there like this program.”

Alphonsine says once she graduates, she hopes to continue to reach her goals; including buying a new home with the money she obtained through Workforce Development.


Visit Workforce Development to learn how you can become a graduate.